By Rick Cowman
Once again we find ourselves at the time of the year when we are reminded to give thanks. But consider with me something out of the ordinary for which to give thanks. Let's think about the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, where he says to us "in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!"
I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy for me to give thanks for "everything"! Many times in life things happen which challenge our belief that God knows what He’s doing. But the encouragement in God’s Word here is not that we should give thanks "for" everything that happens to us, but that we must give thanks "in" every situation. This means we need to see our problems and difficulties through spiritual eyes; seeing them as vehicles of God’s grace at work in us. It means by faith we thank God in the middle of it, because we know He is going to work through it and use the situation to accomplish His good in our lives! You see, as Christians, we don’t live on explanations; we live on the promises of God! And God’s promise to you and me is this: He will cause everything that happens to us to work out His good in our lives (Romans 8:28)! God uses every bump in the road to get our attention concerning an area in our lives which needs work.
Just prior to verse 18 in our text, Paul gives us two other nuggets of truth. First, in verse 16 He says, "rejoice always". What does it mean to "rejoice"? Literally it means to return to the source of your joy! And he says we need to do it all the time! How important it is when we face discouragement and disappointment to stop and return to the place we can find joy. We’ll never find joy in our circumstances or in our station in life. Joy is found only in our Savior, Jesus Christ! We’ll never have joy as long as we are concentrating on our problems. Only as we go to the source of joy and focus on the One who loved us so much He died in our place will we find the joy inexpressible the Bible promises. And we can even find it in the very midst of our struggles!
Then in verse 17, Paul says we are to "pray without ceasing". I believe this means we are to remain in an attitude of prayer continually! But what kind of attitude? The context here is that of staying with it until the end, and for us to do that we must remain in an attitude of dependence on God! Verse 24 declares, "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass!" God is the One who called you to be His child, and the One who has placed you where you are and allowed you to be in the situation you are in. And God is faithful. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it. GOD IS FAITHFUL! He has a plan for your life and He is the One who is at work "in" your circumstances to accomplish that plan!
As we gather around our Thanksgiving turkey at the dinner table this week, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on God’s goodness toward us in Jesus Christ. May we remember to give thanks "in" everything, no matter what the "everything" may be, because this is God's will for each of us as a follower of Jesus Christ! And if you’re not a follower of Jesus, may you come to the realization that God sent Him to demonstrate His great love for you, that He died for your sin so you could have a relationship with God through Him! All all you have to do is admit you’re going the wrong way, take a step toward Him, and trust Him to take control of your life!
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!